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Sunday, June 3, 2001 -- Oak Hill, WV
XTERRA ACE Big Canyon Off Road Triathlon (iPO Event Id#: 3233)
Photos and story by George Gannon

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]

Race Pic
Creature from the Ace Lagoon
"I hope nobody comes close to him, because he might turn around and eat em'."

Those were the sentiments concerning what might happen if some were to get too close to Justin Thomas at the ACE Big Canyon Off Road Triathlon. While he might not be one to eat other people, his finishing time at the race bordered on inhuman. In fact, when Thomas accepted his first place trophy and his time was said aloud to the crowd, a chorus of the word inhuman could be heard around the ACE Adventure Center. Thomas completed the one-kilometer swim, twelve-mile bike leg, and seven-mile trail run in a shade over an hour and half. Most people driving in cars can't do it that quickly.

However, most cars are not expected to deal with foot-deep mud bogs, single-track bike trails, huge boulders, 800 foot ravines, and crossing creeks. Thomas overcame all that to take the top spot at the Xterra points series race.

First was the swim: three brutal laps in a chilly, fresh water lake. Then the twelve-mile bike ride. According to ACE Program director Tug Chamberlin, the bike course is a little bit of everything. Some hard climbs, a few fast downhills, some technical stuff, and plenty of mud. "It's dirty" said Chamberlin. The run is a seven mile out-and-back course that is all downhill on the way out, and all uphill on the way back. As an added bonus, the racers have to trudge through Arbuckle Creek.

Race Pic
Nearing the finish
Although the course might prove to much for some people, all 59 racers registered finished the course. However, the overall winner Justin Thomas did not just finish, he dominated. With a final time 1:33:17, Thomas finished a full ten minutes ahead of anyone else. The Fairfax, VA resident lead at every interval in the race.

For the ladies, Thomas' coworker, Kathleen Coutinho took the top spot. Although she thought she was going to drown during the swim, Coutinho passed Cara Coolbaugh during the bike race. At the 2.5 mile mark in the run, Cara briefly took the lead back from Coutinho but was not able to hold the lead for long. Amazingly enough for Coutinho, this was her first triathlon, and she described it as "really muddy, challenging, and a lot of fun" and acknowledged her competitor Coolbaugh saying she was on her "like green on grass" during the run. The win was a bonus for Coutinho who stated that she would have loved it if she'd come in dead last.